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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Foiled! ... And Successful Entirely by Accident

Thursday, August 05, 2010 By

I get an alert that a person previously with my company has joined a new practice. Since it's part of my job to track and compile these events, I am frustrated when I can't pull up the full information. I decide to call the practice directly.

"[Name Redacted], this is Betty. How may Ah help yew?"

I know this voice. This voice is the voice of Southern grandmothers everywhere - but they'd pronounce it "ev-reh-whhayah." They pronounced the "wh" dipthong like they're blowing out a candle. I like this lady.

"Hi! My name is Stacey Hudson, and I'm calling from [name redacted]. I saw a press posting that y'all have hired one of our alumni. I was wondering if you could tell me to whom I could speak in order to get a copy of the press release. I can't seem to access the Statesboro Business News."

"Whut, nayow?" It's been a while since I've heard this kind of accent, and I'm really enjoying it. But I have the impression that she doesn't really hear me.

"I'm calling from [name redacted.] I saw a press release that [biz name] has hired Dr. [name redacted] as part of your medical staff."


"He's one of our alumni. There's a small problem: I can't seem to pull up the Statesboro Business News. Is there someone available in marketing who could send that press release to me?"

"Whayull, Ah know that he's an aloomnus of your skül," she agrees. She pronounces it just like that: al-OOM-nus, skül.


"Yes, ma'am," I prompt.


"So what can Ah do foh yew today?" she asks.

Something is not going well here. I tweak my accent just a tad, hoping that there's a lack of understanding caused by generational/regional influences.

"Well, ma'am, I was hoping that there might be someone in the administration, maybe in the marketing department, who could send that press release over to me. I can't seem to get to the Statesboro Business News on the Internet, and we sure do like to know when our alumni are doing well."

"Now, what would yew like tuh know?" she asks.

"Oh, his professional background, his specialties, what he'll be working on for y'all - just basic stuff. I'd just love to speak with your marketing department to get a copy of the press release, so that I can include the information in our alumni magazine," I simplify.

We don't really have a magazine strictly for alumni, but it's a concept everyone understands. I'm getting the feeling that she may need this simplified further. Desperate, I type in the address for the business journal again. Nothing. Is the site down? Is it a fictitious business paper? Have they all been hijacked by Chinese hackers?

"Well, Ah don't know much about him," she said. "But Ah know that he did go tuh that skül."

I'm desperately reloading the page. I don't want to call back tomorrow and try to get past her to someone else. I will lose. She is a polite wall, of the pre-sexual-revolution "No, You Cannot See Mr. Draper Today" type. She is Joan Holloway with gray hair and orthopedic shoes. I do not know how to deal with these women. I cannot chat them up. They are products of the War Generation, and they never lose their cool. They wear permanent curls, permanently stiff upper lips, and, generally speaking, do not approve of me. They are Ladies. I am a Just a Girl.

I pour it on anyway: "Yes, ma'am. I sure do appreciate you confirming that. But if there is someone available in the marketing department, I'm sure they'll have all the info that I need in a press release."

"Well, I don't know how much help I can be to you on this. I just don't know much about him," she says. She has no intention of acknowledging my request, or of transferring me. She didn't approve of my cheerful-but-short professionalism when I first called. It happens from time to time, usually with ladies of this sort. And when you try to get around them, it's like arguing with a lace doily. Or a handmade quilt. Or lemon bars.

Just then - the website magically reappears! Quickly, I copy and paste the information into my already-open file. Thank the gods.

"Well, I sure do appreciate your help today, ma'am. I think I have all I need."

"Well, you have a nice day, dearie," she says.

"Yes, ma'am; you do the same."


It might be just me, but the *click* seemed a little smug on her end.


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